All’s Fair in Love and War: Literature Week 2016

By Nicole Doyle (17A01A) and Catherine Zou (17A01B)

Litweek

Students may have noticed quotes that have materialised on the walls next to lifts, lecture theatres and corridors over the paste week. Examples include “There is a castle on a cloud” and “And miles to go before I sleep” (fittingly written outside LT1). Reactions ranged from pleasant surprise to bewilderment.  As one student put it, “just because it’s pretty doesn’t mean it’s not vandalism”.  

The quotes alone, however, constituted only a small part of this year’s Literature Week (abbreviated as Litweek) in RI. Following the theme of “War”, a string of exciting activities were organised for students throughout the week, and the canteen turned  into an active area for literature-related setups.

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Members of Writer’s Guild and the completed boards

One of the first displays that was put up was the War Poetry showcase, assembled on boards that were carefully designed by members of Writer’s Guild. It featured war poems that ranged from the 1900s to the modern day, all reflecting how people between the years adapted to different states of war. The curated selection is still available in the canteen this week so do take a look when passing by.

Besides Guild’s selection of poetry, the boards also featured the collaborative Epic Poem — a product of Guild’s arrangement of lines submitted by students.

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The Epic Poem captured many students’ attention, especially those looking out for lines submitted by friends or themselves.

The poetry displays were also accompanied by Guild’s typewriter poetry and sales of Lit Week merchandise. Perhaps as a mark of RI’s fondness for Literature (or for pretty vintage tokens),  just under 200 prompts were submitted to be turned into typewritten poems by Guild members.  

Literature Night

Concluding the week was the biggest yearly “gathering of arts trash” (in the words of the Lit Night emcees). Compulsory for all Literature students and free for the rest, the concert commenced with a dim stage, scattered with electronic tealights.  The setup quickly slid into place, however, with the opening chords of Seasons of Love and I’ll Cover You from the musical Rent, which follows the lives and struggles of several artists living in New York, by the Broadway Babies.

Nobody, however, capitalised on the irony of the song choice better than the two emcees, Hidayat Malik (17S06B) and Izzul Irfan (17A01D). The two emcees balanced the solemn performances with witty jibes on arts students’ ‘doomed’ futures. This included no holds barred digs at all subjects: from their views on how “math will never happen”, “the dead halls of Physics”, to arts students’ fondness of “emo atas songs”.

To counterbalance the comedic insights from the emcees, the performances never failed to exhibit literature’s wide-ranging nature.  In fact, the spoken word performance featured several references to mathematical or scientific language. Bay Jia Wei (17S06R) referenced the behavior of intersecting graphs in her poem, while the performance by Jasdeep Singh Hundal (16S03N) and Alex Tan (16S03B) pointed out that emotions and thoughts that cannot be measured or described by even the precise terms of science and math. Isaiah Lee’s (16A01A) poetry performance was well-received as well.

Similarly striking were the two performances put up by Raffles Players, an original play, He Said She Said, followed by a restaged version of their SYF piece, The Coffin Is Still Too Big For The Hole. He Said She Said was written by Cheang Ko Lyn (16A01B), and directed by Ko Lyn and Jasdeep.

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Navigating the trials of a world where normal communication is a distant memory, together.

It centred on a hypothetical future where speech is destroyed by an outbreak of diseases. The play followed the burgeoning relationship between Boy, afflicted with a lisp, and Girl, who developed a stutter. Through the misunderstandings and arguments that arose between the two, He Said She Said addresses the importance of speech and communication. It also reinforced an underlying strong belief in the continued existence of love that persists even in the absence of speech.

The second play, The Coffin Is Still Too Big For The Hole, as Hidayat and Izzul pointed out (being part of the cast), had received a Distinction at the Singapore Youth Festival. And it clearly deserved it, for its incredible portrayal of  conformity and repression in a society.

To counter the notion that Literature Night was a Players-dominated gathering, events that involved audience-participation were similarly well-received.  The Lit Quiz, for instance, involved using anagrams, book covers or riddles to guess a book’s title. The costumes showcase, too, was a riot for the audiences, particularly with Shengyao’s (16S03B) spot-on impersonation of Mr Ian Tan, down to the details of how he chugs water, meows, and carries his bag.

The event concluded much as it had started – echoing the dim lights and rostrums that had started the evening, the Broadway Babies’ again took the stage with the song What I Did For Love from the musical A Chorus Line. Their rousing performance was a fitting end to the night of revelry and entertainment. Outside the PAC, the War Poetry and Epic Poem boards were viewable by all who attended the event.

With the conclusion of Lit Night came the official end of Litweek 2016. The shared warm reception by Science and Art students alike towards Lit Week as a whole was a heartening indication of the event’s success in breaking down the walls between students and literature, while bridging the gap between subject streams.

If you liked what you saw at Litweek 2016, be sure to keep an eye on @wafflesguild, Writer’s Guild newly established instagram account!

 

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